Where to begin?
How about a nice pie chart of my mental focus presently:
[Forgive me, husband, for the utter and complete lack of scientific rationality in this "chart".]
I don’t think I could keep this up for long. My mind feels spaced out. And maxed out.
Some things I love and am thankful for- relationships and life. Ever-present and often redeeming.
Usually I like feeding the kids and creating fun lunches, but lately they want to eat constantly. Like every hour. Which leaves me in some constant flux of, “No you can’t eat; I just fed you.”, “Yes you can eat; what would you like?”, and “No you can’t eat; I haven’t even finished cleaning up from the last time you ate.”.
Some things are fleeting. I mean I know Cohen will eventually stop waking up at night and I won’t spend my days thinking about how tired I am. Potty training will eventually click for Landon. Right? Right!? I will eventually get everything packed for vacation.
The summer bucket list and compensating for focusing on Landon so much are related. As in, the bucket list was created in an effort to not get swallowed up by all of Landon’s present needs. To be intentional about having a memory-filled and family-focused summer. [I'll share our list soon.]
And then there’s Landon’s therapies.
A long time ago I told you he qualified for our state’s early intervention program. When he was tested at 22-months-old he scored as a 9-month-old for his verbal communication skills and an 11-month-old for his adaptive behavior skills [which is sort of hard to briefly explain, but that's basically self-care and fitting into his environment]. We started speech therapy and soon added occupational therapy and they changed his life. Really. I am so thankful that I trusted my instincts to have him tested when people were telling me he was “just a boy” and he would “grow out of it”. He went from not having the trunk support to sit unassisted for more than three minutes to being able to climb and run and jump and… anything! He worked hard to gain strength and overcome low muscle tone. He is a champion! But speech-wise… He plateaued. Progress has been hard and very slow-going.
Our therapy coordinator made all the arrangements so we could begin the process of transferring his therapy to our school district when he will age-out of the early intervention program at 3-years-old. We had our yearly meeting, where we talked about the goals for Landon we set a year ago, and I couldn’t help but get excited about all the progress he’s made. So he’s not saying any spontaneous words, but he’s also not inappropriately touching strangers! I left the meeting feeling prepared for his eligibility evaluation with the school district.
The day of the evaluation came and [thankfully] it fell the week after school was out for the summer so Chuck watched the other two kids while Landon and I went to the meeting. I knew there were going to be a lot of people there because I’d been sent some paperwork which listed everyone’s role [This is the name of the speech therapist, this is the name of the school psychologist, etc.]. Inside the evaluation room, Landon and I were introduced to the six [SIX!] other people present.
Did I mention he was in underwear? I’m in the ‘ditch the diapers and don’t look back’ camp. Yeah…
Because Landon is amazing and one of the nicest, friendliest kids I’ve ever met, he wasn’t at all intimidated by all the new faces. He jumped right into playing with the puzzles, cars, and blocks with new “friends”.
And then every few minutes he would start holding himself and gesturing that he needed to go potty. We’d scurry down the hallway, out of the office, and into the public restroom where his eyes would widen taking in the stalls and his hands would cover his ears when someone turned on the faucet or flushed a toilet. [Public restrooms seen through the eyes of someone with sensory issues are downright hellish]. Overwhelmed by the whole experience, he would throw himself on the restroom floor [gross] in an effort to control his sensory input. I would then pick him up, dust him off, and walk him back to the evaluation room. [repeat x 15]
Eventually, two and a half hours [and one very big soak-the-shoes kind of potty accident] later, the evaluation was complete. The first thing one of the evaluators said was, “I know we’ve just met him, but I’m pretty sure we’re all already in love with your son.” Yeah, he definitely has that effect on people. We were then told he qualified for therapy related to communication, adaptive behavior, and social/emotional behavior [We assumed he would only qualify for his speech]. He was cited with having “sensory issues”. The speech therapist said she’s very confident he has both oral and verbal apraxia. He just barely scored in the “clinically significant” range for autism spectrum problems, which is the rank above “at risk” where he scored for attention issues [I feel compelled to add here that I genuinely don't believe my son has autism, but that he has some characteristics that autistic people also tend to have].
So kind of a big deal, right? And totally worthy of all that head-space and processing time. I’m trying to prepare for this meeting coming up in the next few days where we’ll decide how to get him therapy [Like: Should he go to a special preschool? Should we start paying for private speech therapy?]
But [and maybe this is crazy] my biggest take-away from reading the 14 page report I received about my son after the evaluation was:
My child has special needs.
I mean I’ve said that before. And it doesn’t change how I see him. But I usually minimize it by thinking, “There are so many kids with so many problems worse than this.” Maybe that’s doing my family a disservice. Maybe that’s dismissing the extra care everyone needs: Landon to receive extra help and patience and Lucy and Cohen to receive more intentional time. Sometimes just the thought of that is overwhelming. I’m scared there’s not enough of me. That as I give more of me, the quality given decreases. I can certainly see that to be true for my household duties. Nothing ever feels clean. Dinner always feels hasty.
How should I spend my time?
I had Lucy answer the questions for this Five Love Languages of Kids survey and, much to my surprise, her top love language was time. I thought for sure it was going to be receiving gifts because she never forgets who gives her things. I had to dig a little deeper and ask her what kind of time spent with me she was looking for. She doesn’t like shopping or running errands. What she wants is for me to sit on the floor and watch her play Barbies. She wants me to play board games with her [and let her cheat ;)] while the boys sleep. She wants to make cookies and brownies and cupcakes and layered cakes and pancakes and waffles. She wants me. A lot of me.
I pray a lot about not feeling guilt. Guilt that I don’t have time to give her. Guilt that I’m not spending extra time snuggling Cohen after I feed him. Guilt that I didn’t make Landon attempt to say the word of what he wanted for lunch after he brought it to me. Guilt that we didn’t do our ‘first words’ flash cards today. Guilt that Chuck gets my gizzards [unwanted extras if you weren't raised Southern ;)].
That’s where we’re at right now. If you’ve made it this far, I feel fairly certain you care for our family. Thank you. Seriously. From the bottom of my overflowing heart.